Comments on Bill C6

by Collin Wynter

Bill C6 is an Act to amend the Criminal Code of Canada in regards to what is colloquially known as “conversion therapy”. Here is an overview of the bill:

Overview

Bill C-6 would amend the Criminal Code to prohibit certain activities that relate to “conversion therapy”, which is defined as practices, treatment or services designed to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender or to reduce non-heterosexual sexual attraction or sexual behaviour. Specifically, the Bill would enact new offences to prohibit:

  • causing an individual to undergo conversion therapy against their will;
  • causing a child to undergo conversion therapy;
  • removing a child from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad;
  • receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy; and
  • advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy.

The Bill would also authorize courts to order the seizure and forfeiture of advertisements for conversion therapy or order their removal from computer systems (“take-down provisions”).

Overall, the Bill would promote the human dignity and equality of all Canadians, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2) people and the LGBTQ2 community. Arising from fundamental social and ethical considerations, the Bill would discourage and denounce practices and treatments that cause psychological harm to LGBTQ2 people.

The Bill also potentially engages sections 2(a) (freedom of religion), 2(b) (freedom of expression), 6 (mobility rights), 7 (life, liberty and security of the person), section 8 (search and seizure) and 15 (equality) of the Charter.

In response to Bill C 6, Garnett Genuis, Conservative Member of Parliament for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan brought forth concerns about the potential harms from the outcome of the proposed changes to the Criminal Code. He set up a project called Fix the Definition and outlined the changes he wants to see below:

  • Ban coercive, degrading practices that are designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Ensure that no laws discriminate against Canadians by limiting what services they can receive based on their sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Allow parents to speak with their own children about sexuality and gender, and set house rules about sex and relationships;
  • Allow free and open conversations about sexuality and sexual behaviour; and
  • Not criminalize professional and religious counselling voluntarily requested and consented to by LGBTQ2 Canadians.

Genuis encouraged the public to send through their concerns regarding changes to the Criminal Code through the Act of Bill C 6. So I did. I am greatly concerned, as you will see below. Whether you live in Canada or another place in the world, take the opportunity to contact your local representative and express your concern about the medicalization of children. That is a direct outcome to such legislation changes as in the ones being put through by the Trudeau Liberal government. This is a direct attack on children’s right to liberty and free expression without interference from the government and medical industry. Denying access to talk therapy- herein called conversion therapy- will lead to invasive life altering medical treatments. This must end. Now.

Dear Garnett Genius,

Hope you are having a lovely day. I would like to share with you and Parliament my thoughts on Bill C 6 and Act to amend the Criminal Code of Canada in regards to what is known as “conversion therapy”.

As we well know, the historical practice of conversion therapy was practiced on homosexuals with or without their consent. At times it was prescribed by religious leaders, or imposed by parents onto children. The methods used were often cruel and inhumane and had no effect on the innate nature of the person’s sexual orientation. But something has changed in our society. That change began with Bill C 16. This bill added gender identity and expression as being protected characteristics under the Human Rights Code. I believe in equal rights under the law for all individuals. However, Bill C 16 has opened the door towards many contradictory outcomes. Even though there were warnings, they were not heeded, and quite frankly, were disregarded. The dire consequences of Bill C 6 is a direct result of the implications of Bill C 16. But the latter has passed, so I can only lend my weight to the former.

Bill C 6, seeks to ban conversion therapy. But this time, it is not limited to sexual orientation via harmful medical treatments. The bill aims to ban conversion therapy in the form of spiritual and psychoanalytic therapy. Again, I fully support everyone’s right to live as equal human beings in our society. I believe discrimination to be foul and recognize the challenges posed to some people to present themselves open and honestly to the public. But denying people access to therapy that may be of use to them, may in fact be detrimental for their well-being. I will focus on the concept of gender identity in the bill. As this concept is transient rather than fixed and is of great contention.

As noted above, Bill C 16 introduced gender identity and expression to be protected under the human rights code. Now, we have Bill C 6 banning conversion therapy, which was once solely associated with sexual orientation, now expanded to include gender identity. Bill C 6 explicitly states that children may not receive therapy even with their consent. That means that if a child claims to be of the opposite sex, medical professionals will only be able to affirm the child’s perceived gender. In a situation like this, the child may gain access to puberty blockers without first receiving psychoanalytic therapy. Therapists may fear to provide “watchful waiting” therapy for what is known as “gender dysphoria” because of the chance they will be accused of ‘conversion therapy’. This may proceed as an intrusion into the family home, wherein parents may be held culpable for denying their children access to gender affirmation clinics. In fact, parents may be banned from discussing their concerns publicly or may be held legally liable for referring to their child with pronouns as determined by their biological sex.

The concept of a transgender child, defined as a child experiencing “gender dysphoria”, is in essence a feeling of being uncomfortable in their own body- believing that they were born in the wrong body. This is something that may be resolved through “watchful waiting”. What you do not want to do is to affirm a child that they are in the wrong body because they will believe you. They are a child. They will believe you. This reminds me of anorexia. Anorexics are uncomfortable with their bodies. Or body integrity disorder, wherein the patient wants limbs removed. These are serious mental disorders and are treated by medical professionals who do not affirm the patients condition but provide proper medical care. The proper medical care for children experiencing “gender dysphoria”, is not ‘affirmation therapy’. The therapy they may need, then, may in fact contravene their claims of being the opposite gender. And hence, may be considered ‘conversion therapy’. 

The United Kingdom has stated that under sixteen years of age, persons are unlikely able to give consent for puberty blockers. Their National Health Services are being sued by de-transitioners (children who were denied access to psychoanalytic therapy and instead received affirmation only therapy at clinics which prescribed puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and surgeries). Some clinicians even felt that the gender clinics were transitioning gender atypical children, in essence homosexual children because their parents were uncomfortable with them. Canada does not need to follow down that route. We do not need to sacrifice children to life altering drugs and surgeries. There are examples before our eyes. Do not let their lives be in vain. 

Considering I was a gender atypical child, I wonder if I would have been a patient of a gender clinic and subjected to their ‘affirmation therapies’. Luckily, I was not. But I am unsure of what may come for kids, like I was, in the future. 

Drugs and pharmaceuticals have their place, but so does psychoanalysis and spiritual guidance. I implore Parliament to consider the points below, and to amend the Bill C 6 accordingly, to allow for individuals and children acting within the family unit, the ability to explore a child’s “gender dysphoria” safely. This will prevent gender clinics from medicalizing, sterilizing, are performing life altering surgeries on both heterosexual and homosexual children.

  • Ban coercive, degrading practices that are designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Ensure that no laws discriminate against Canadians by limiting what services they can receive based on their sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Allow parents to speak with their own children about sexuality and gender, and set house rules about sex and relationships;
  • Allow free and open conversations about sexuality and sexual behaviour; and
  • Not criminalize professional and religious counselling voluntarily requested and consented to by LGBTQ2 Canadians.

If you have any questions. Please feel free to reach out.

Kind regards,

Collin Wynter

Published by Collin Wynter

Exploring rights of our freedom of expression and justice

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